They are known for their distinctive mating song, which resounds with the familiar "cuckoo" repeated in two or three syllables. Another interesting feature of this bird is the fact that it does not hatch its own eggs but lays them in the nests of others.
The common cuckoo is a migratory bird belonging to the cuckoo family.
There are four subspecies of the common cuckoo.
A peculiarity of the cuckoo is its brood parasitism. They lay eggs in the nests of other birds.
The Common Cuckoo has a habit of laying its eggs in other species nests, so an unsuspecting female hatches them. Although the cuckoo's eggs are usually larger than those of their hosts, they always look like the eggs of the species it parasites on.
It is the only brood parasite in Central Europe.
It lays its eggs in the nests of about 300 birds, mostly of the passerine family.
In the breeding season it inhabits Eurasia from the British Isles throughout central Europe and Scandinavia, Asia except for the polar zones, the Arabian Peninsula and India.
It winters in Africa in the equatorial zone and south of the equator.
In addition, wintering cuckoos can be found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
It lives in wooded or shrubby areas.
It is not comfortable in dense forests, so it usually chooses forest edges, parks, gardens, trees in fields and meadows, marshes and dunes.
The males are slightly larger than the females.
The Common Cuckoo reaches a body length of 32 to 34 cm and the wingspan of these birds is 55 - 60 cm. The males weigh 114 - 133 g and the females 106 - 112 g.
It has a grayish, slender body and a long tail, the plumage resembling that of a sparrowhawk.
The legs are relatively short compared to the rest of the body. The underside of the body is decorated with grayish-white stripes that form grooves. Males are dark gray from the throat to the thorax area. In both sexes, the iris, eye socket, base of the bill and feet are yellow.
They reach sexual maturity at the age of two years.
At this time they give birth to their first brood. The female is polygamous.
The common cuckoo begins to lay eggs in early July.
During this time it is able to produce and lay 10 to 20 eggs. There are usually two days between egg-laying. The eggs are very similar to those of the species on which they parasitize. This type of resemblance is called mimicry and is intended to increase the chances that the egg cast will survive and hatch.
It takes a few seconds for the egg to be laid in a nest.
During this time, the female cuckoo ejects or eats one of the host eggs.
The common cuckoo is mostly an insectivore.
Its delicacy is hairy caterpillars, which are not a treat for many bird species. Cuckoos sometimes eat the chicks and eggs of other species.
Cuckoos never raise their own chicks.
Their job is merely to drop an egg into a stranger's nest. When the nest owner realizes that the egg has been tossed, he may throw it or leave the nest altogether.
Cuckoos chicks hatch in 11 to 13 days.
The newly hatched birds are aggressive and push apart, causing other eggs or even hatched chicks to be thrown from the nest and die on the ground.
Young cuckoos throw other chicks out of the nest to get enough food.
This is because a cuckoo chick is often larger than its host and could not be able to survive if other birds were fed in addition to it.
It is difficult to determine the maximum lifespan of the cuckoo.
The record holder lived 6 years, 11 months and 2 days, but there are reports that the cuckoo can live up to 15 years.
Although the global population of the cuckoo is slightly declining, it is considered a species of the least concern.
According to measurements, the global population of these birds is between 25 and 100 million individuals.
The cuckoo is a bird that stays away from people and does not come into the sight of humans unless it has to.
It often hides in the treetops and bushes where it is difficult to spot.
The first person to notice and describe the behavior of the cuckoo was Aristotle.
In 2003, a complete list of birds on which cuckoos parasitize was published by Alexander D. Numerov.